New Member
Dec 13, 2001
HANGING TOUGH WITH THE COWBOYS<br /><br />The early ride was great - empty roads and opportunity to talk and socialize - an hour later you find yourself alongside a 22 wheeler with only 10cm of space between the wheels and your leg, with the road dropping off the jagged left edge 18 inches down into the gravel, not to mention being blinded and choked by the diesel fumes.<br /><br />Reality check - this sport can be frightening!<br /><br />But this is an unfortunate reality for most cyclists in cities! Fighting for every centimeter of space available, dodging taxis, jumping potholes and still trying to do our interval training. The reality exists because most of us work for a living and so can only train outside of work hours between dawn and sunset.<br /><br />If you work, the ride window is pre-dawn until you go to work, and the period after work ends, until sunset. Unfortunately this period normally coincides with peak traffic flows. Invariably this means we have to get used to riding with traffic, or give up riding. But there are guidelines to becoming safer and more effective in traffic<br /><br />Be assertive<br />Do not fall prey to the &quot;Cyclists Inferiority Complex&quot; . Motorists are not doing you a favour by letting you be on the road. You are simply a slowly moving vehicle with exactly the same rights as a faster moving vehicle, irrespective of size. There are well-defined road rules pertaining to each. Your job as a cyclist is to abide by them. This includes observing all the rules pertaining to cars, plus a few others (like not riding abreast unless it is absolutely safe to do so).<br /><br />Ride positively<br />By riding positively and not hesitating, motorists will quickly get an impression of your skill and will not get too aggressive. <br /><br />Use handsignals<br />By using handsignals (one at a time, please) to demonstrate your intentions, you will be abiding by the rules of the road and signaling your intention to other road users. This decreases the amount of anxiety a driver will have about a cyclist doing something unexpected. (Showing the middle finger is yet to be ratified as a legit handsignal!) <br />You will also appear predictable - so ride predictably.<br /><br />Stay calm<br />If someone hoots at you or is aggressive towards you, stay calm. The phenomenon of road rage is still not totally understood, so just let them drive away - do not provoke them further by responding with aggression. <br />Try this: if someone is aggressive, just wave back pleasantly - it tends to create a bit of perspective. <br /><br />Know your strengths<br />Do not ride yourself into a coma and then start weaving all over the road through exhaustion - it tends to rattle other road users, especially other cyclists, never mind the motorists.<br /><br />Know the road<br />Be on the lookout for any potholes, narrow sections, or steep climbs so that you can change gears or effort to get through as safely as possible. <br /><br />For visible potholes, keep your hands on the bars and check the traffic around you before getting to the pothole, then bunny-hop it! <br />For steep climbs it is important to take it a bit easier beforehand so that you do not have to slow down too much, and change gears well ahead of time to avoid the loss of composure associated with dropped chains etc. <br />For narrow roads try to time your entry to a lull in the traffic (check the timing of the robots) and then go quickly through the section if it is short. For longer sections keep your ears open and check for trucks coming up behind you that will have problems getting past, and if there is obviously a space problem, do the right thing and quickly but safely m ove off the road. <br />Be visible<br />Let motorists know you are there. Wear brightly colored clothing.<br /><br />Ride sensibly<br />Be aware of the space you take up, and mind your manners on the road. If there are two or more of you then ride in single file until there is a wide enough shoulder to ride on.<br /><br />Don't try your luck<br />You weigh 150lbs, a car weighs 2 tons. Guess who wins the fight?<br /><br />Stay relaxed<br />Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of safety is staying relaxed. Be alert, but stay relaxed. This might sound impossible when you are wedged between that truck and the gutter, but one thing is for sure - if you tense up you are far, far more likely to lose control of your bike, or to overreact should something happen. Either way you are doomed. Stay relaxed and alert and trust your instincts to guide you safely through the tight spots. <br /><br />
After that postive note, me thinks I'll ride to work tomorrow.<br /><br />Just one comment on the road rage point. When waving cheerfully at a rude motorist, don't come across as being sarcastic. We share roads with some strange creatures some of whom carry weapons with them in cars. You don't want to confront such an ignoramus who thinks you're a wise guy.<br /><br />Also, remember that if you do respond to an idiot by giving him/her the bird, their perception of cyclists may change and they will be less considerate to other cyclists on the road, such as me for example, so remain calm and enjoy the journey.<br /><br />Pothole's the man ;D ;D
Interesting question which may deserve its own thread later but do you guys commute on your racers or at least Road bikes? I was on a morning cycle this morning (Wednesdays is a light day, I have a rest day and I take a girl riding for her hard day) and was forced to brake rather hard at a downhill robot, unfortunately it was pretty rough tarmac and a little skid from my back wheel (courtesy of my still not being completely in touch with this racer thing) shredded the tire (which wasn't old). Previous times I have been cycling in the mornings I've often wondered if I could get a similar workout on my MTB while having the advantage of being able to rumble over anything and bunny hop off the road in case of too much traffic. Anybody got views on this (as I'm either cycling on my own or with a weaker rider the speed issue isn't that important). Nice thing though is that I have been off the MTB for 3 months now (courtesy of the new road bike and lending the MTB to a mate) and now I'm really itching to try out the new fitness on some trails. Even found myself bunny-hopping the racer lately
[quote author=Lab_Rat link=board=8;threadid=2494;start=0#21410 date=1033544813]<br />After that postive note, me thinks I'll ride to work tomorrow.<br />[/quote]<br />been wanting to do this for ages and have slowly but surely been finding the back roads from Alberton to Woodmead. There is however one small area that will test my sprinting abilities, but it's near the end of my route and I'm afraid I'll be a little fatigued by then. You see, I will need to travel through Alexandra.<br /><br />
hie hie ... before you know it your bike will be on bricks ;D
Overall a good quality post. I will merely add that one needs to be wary of opening car doors. Generally I ride wide enough to be at least 1 metre away from parked cars. The key here is to hold a consistent line.